Twelve days ago, the Scarlett Nation packed up our belongings and headed west. Sure, it was only 5.9 miles west, but it was west, nonetheless. Fifteen years after we bought it (almost to the day), we said goodbye to our Perrowville abode and migrated to The Fields on the outskirts of Forest.
We traded our 1984 2,000 square footer for a 2010 4,000 square footer. Our kids are growing, and our old house was not. Pity really. We love that house. But knowing that 5 boys will soon be 5 gangly teenagers, we knew that we needed more elbow room – along with some extra shoulder, back, and knee room to go with it.
Selling our house was never the issue. We knew it would. Finding a place, better yet, finding the place – that was our concern. Families of eight can’t just fit anywhere.
We’ve known for years that moving would require the right house with the right floorplan in the right neighborhood at the right price. This new home offered us all of that. We’ve now got more bedrooms, more space, more yard, more bathrooms, more driveway, more pantry, and, of course, more mortgage. But we believe that God has brought us to this neighborhood and to this home for this next season of life and ministry in Forest.
1187 Telford is the home of our future. Though 1900 Perrowville will always be the home of our past. It has a special, permanent place in the origin story of The Scarlett Nation.
When we moved there, Rebecca and I had only been married for two years. It had been foreclosed and sat empty for quite some time. It needed some TLC and we had plenty to give. We put literal blood, sweat, and tears into that place.
We brought all six of our kids home to that little brick ranch – four from the hospital and two from the airport. It was the home of many Scarlett firsts: first birthdays, first stitches, first days of school, first instrument lessons, first family prayers, first words, first steps, first booboos, and so on.
The day before we officially moved, I asked the family at dinner, “What are you going to miss most about this house?” Like fireworks, each kid shot off into loud memories and burst into colorful stories.
They recounted movie nights, broken bones, football games, Christmas gifts, favorite meals, birthday parties, wrestle nights, board game fun, goofy stories, imaginary friends, and so much more.
There was that time I jolted myself with 110 volts changing a switch. There was that time Sam accidentally hit Josiah with a shovel and busted his head open. There was that time Jeremiah cut himself and bled so much that our staircase looked like a crime scene. (We had a lot of injuries in that house.) There was that time a car plowed over our mailbox. There was that time 15 cows showed up in our backyard. There was that time I argued on the porch with the Jehovah’s Witnesses so much that they stopped coming back. There was that time a snake got in the living room. We talked. We giggled.
I expected many of the stories. What I did not expect was the tidal wave of emotions that hit me. I got a lump in my throat. My eyes got misty. I looked away. I tried to sit up in my chair, blink a few times, and regain my composure. But it was too late.
With no one looking, I quietly excused myself from the table and went to the bathroom. I stood at the sink. That same darn sink where we brushed their teeth, washed their faces, and combed their hair. No matter where I looked – each handle, faucet, door, and cabinet had some story attached to it. So, I made one last memory in that house: I cried. It wasn’t the first, but it was the last tear shed by a Scarlett at Perrowville Road.
You may think that I’m being melodramatic. “It’s just a house!” I disagree.
Places matter. Don’t believe me? Consider what just happened at Notre Dame. Better yet, just go read the Old Testament. Along with Christology and eschatology, the Bible also contains what you might call some placeology too. Places were significant. Places are significant. They’re not enchanted or hallowed but they are special to God and His work.
As Russell Moore recently wrote,
“Too much rootedness can cause us to mistake our land of sojourn for the kingdom, causing us to forget that we are wayfarers and strangers. But not enough rootedness can cause us to grow ungrateful for the ways that God has acted in space and time, for us.”
For all these years, we’ve lived out our own part of redemptive history in this little house. We tended and kept its garden, like our forefather Adam was commanded in Eden. We heard God speak every time we read from the Law, like Moses at Sinai. We sang praise songs together in that place like the sons of Korah did in the temple. In some sense, it was our family’s Jerusalem, wilderness, Bethel, Zion, Golgotha, and Paradise rolled into one. Perrowville Road was where we first “raised our Ebenezer” as a family.
It’s not just special because we were there. It’s special because God was there with us. He was there when two became three, when three became four, and…when we tapped out at eight. He was there when the kids feared the dark. He was there when the parents feared the kids. (Haha!) He was there for every meal, every hug, every sin, and every apology. He was there through it all. And I know that He will be with us in our new place too.
In some ways we still can’t believe how God moved to get us moved. We bought and sold both places in about 96 hours. He answered our prayers, big and small.
Telford is more house than I ever thought I would need or own. Like Audio Adrenaline sang, “It’s a big, big house with lots and lots of room.” And yes, we believe it is our Father’s house, not ours. We’re just stewards of it. We pray that it will be a place where new memories of hospitality, discipleship, evangelism, and worship will happen. We have no doubt this is where God wants us to be right now
To our former house on Perrowville, “Thank you. You were a wonderful, cozy, dependable place. Thanks for the shelter, the warmth, the low electric bills, and the good times. As Dorothy said, ‘There’s no place like home.’ And you were a good one.”
To all of you who prayed for us, helped us move, donated boxes, wrote cards, or gave us money/gifts– thank you, from the bottom of our hearts! Our new house is already special because of you, our household of faith.